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Apr 3, 2009 01:08 PM

Louisana Cooking

I'm a transplant from South Louisana living in Glen Burnie in north Anne Arundel Parish in the State of Maryland.

I'm adicted to the food, and must import the required special ingredients. The freight costs are often greater than the food cost, and the effort required to keep my cupboard stocked requires an enormous amount of time. I'd like to buy more locally.

Next to nothing has been found my area. Hot sauce was found, but not much else. No coffee or cayenne or even red beans. I assume areas closer to Washington D.C. , South Maryland or Northern Virginia might have some or all of the foods because I assume others from NO or South Louisana live in the area.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. I know what it means to miss New Orleans. And sadly, you can't "make groceries" in the DC Metro area.
    The stuff just isn't here.
    I've been dragging it back, having relatives ship it, or mail ordering it for more than 30 years.
    You have to have Camellia Red Beans.That's all there is to it.
    The same company has many other products which saves a lot of time. They don't have all of my favorite brands, but they'll do good enough between trips. File powder, Steen's, big jars of Zatarain's Creole Mustard, decent olive salad (until you learn to make your own!), Zapp's, andouille, boudin and even live crawfish (if you absolutely have to.
    )If you're willing to take the time, most companies in LA will ship direct. I've been getting my coffee - with chicory, natch! - sent to me wherever I've lived, including overseas, for 30+ years.
    The prices are decent enough when you buy by the case direct that the shipping really isn't that bad. Stock your freezer or pantry.
    We always came back from LA with extra bags/boxes full of food and usually with an ice chest of things to go in our freezer until the next trip. With FedEx, we've even had fresh stuff shipped.
    Where there's a will and some homesickness, there's a way.
    The food in South Louisiana is unique. You won't find it most of it around here unless you're willing to settle.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MakingSense

      It's so nice to read about making groceries. Makes me miss Schwegmann's so much! If you get into DC, I find that Acadiana is as close to home cooking as I've found anywhere. It's not spot on, but very good when you have a craving for gumbo or a po boy.

      1. re: MakingSense

        MakingSense. I thank you kindly for the advice. I just learned "Reply." More than twenty others replied, and you appear to be right about the market up here.

        I'm use to walking into a store and deciding what to make. I make almost everything and buy little prepared. Importing requires expending a great effort. For instance, Riely acquired American Coffee late last year, and in all these years, they still haven't learned how to run a web store and tend to be overpriced. They sell crawfish at $5 when one can get them in the city for 50 cents a pound or less. And my last two orders for City Roast when Riely owned American took almost two weeks to ship.

        I'm not yet ready to give up.

        Thanks again, and take care,

        Bon Temps Rouler

        1. re: Bonstempsrouler

          I've been ordering from American Coffee since before they invented the internet (which is only 20 years old this year!) so I still call them directly - 504-581-7234.
          You pay for 10 cans, get 2 free, which pay for the shipping. The last order worked out to about $7/lb.
          It always gets here within a week, usually quicker.

          Gee, crawfish haven't been 50 cents/lb in NOLA for years!!! They're more expensive when you have to order them but that's life. We usually stock up on the tails when we visit Louisiana and throw them in the freezer. The alternative is to get a big order to save on shipping costs.
          We haven't bothered with live crawfish in decades. Too many died in transit.
          If we're lucky enough to time out trips during crawfish season, we just eat ourselves silly while we're there.
          At least we can get crabs and oysters from the Chesapeake so things are OK, even if they are smaller and a lot more expensive. You simply have to learn to boil crabs yourself because you can't buy good boiled crabs up here unfortunately.

          1. re: MakingSense

            Five facts are critical to understanding South Louisiana food and pricing. First is the land is acidic which produces sweeter foods. Second the humidity causes local product to have short shelf life, which is the reason the product can’t be shipped very far, and must be sold quickly. Third, food is a commodity, and its pricing is a matter of economics. Fourth except in NO where food pricing is an art form. Fifth, Food and its costs of production have been exacerbated during the past 18 months due to misallocation of resources. This has given merchants an excuse to raise prices.

            Creole coffee has two main ingredients, coffee beans and chicory. Chicory is usually less costly than coffee beans. This achieves a lower cost price for Creole coffee compared to brands without chicory. But list prices for Creole coffee are often at the higher end of coffee prices. That’s not economics.

            Crawfish are either farm raised or wild. The two have different costs of production. Mudbugs don’t freeze well. They loose their sweetness and tend to become mushy. Farm raised can be put back into the bucket but wild caught must be sold quickly which depending upon quantity and location tends to push down prices.

            So shoppers, know how to look for prices when making groceries. It ain’t easy. Some merchants are oblivious to competition. Reily is known as Hang ‘m High Reily. Don’t be like the crowds in the Vieux Carré, tourists just walking around looking at each other and not understanding what’s really going on.

            Bon Temps Rouler

      2. you can grow bay plants around here - I found seedlings at my local hardware/garden store. Cafe du Monde chicory coffee isn't too hard to find often at both Asian and mainstream grocers.

        forget finding muffaletta unless as MS points out, make the olive salad yourself (and compromise on the bread) but the cold cuts are to be found.

        sadly for the Chesapeake area, most of the oysters are up from the Gulf (unless Chincoteague, which are pretty good).

        I'd be surprised if you can't find many of the needed perishables at Baltimore's Lexington Market (that's just what, 10 or so miles from Glen Burnie?)

        5 Replies
        1. re: hill food

          I order my French Market Coffee with Chicory from American Coffee in New Orleans by the case.
          Unfortunately, what you buy in stores around the country isn't the same as what they sell in NOLA.
          Years ago when I had problems making decent coffee with what I bought off the shelves in California, I called the company and they told me they didn't "ship the good stuff North of Baton Rouge because the Yankees didn't like the dark roasts" like we drink in New Orleans, and they offered to ship it to me. You can actually see the difference in the grounds.

          We fake a pretty decent muffaletta using ciabatta. I like the rectangular ones from the bakery at Eastern Market - just forget about the sacrilege of the shape. Canales has the requisite cold cuts. There probably are plenty of places in Baltimore, especially in Lex Market. We've been tweaking the recipe from Tom Fitzmorris' "New Orleans Food" cookbook and have finally gotten the olive salad down. That's now a fridge staple. Had big Wop Salads this week. A real taste of Old New Orleans Italian restaurants.

          BTW That's a great cookbook for duplicating the tastes of home.
          Also Richard and Rima Collins' "The New Orleans Cookbook," first published in 1975, which has recently been republished in paperback.
          Both cookbooks are very handy for duplicating what you miss so much.

          The biggest problem with the oysters here is that they're all "washed" which pumps them full of water, and the liquor is mostly water which makes them pretty weak for cooking. The Chincoteagues are the closest you can get to the Gulf oysters. We sometimes get a bushel during cool weather and keep them out in the garage under wet burlap.
          Or you can have them shipped. Joe Patti's in Pensacola has an excellent shipping service. Yeah, not in LA, but they have Gulf oysters and the cost is so much less than the price in this area that you generally come out ahead even with the shipping. Today's price on oysters is $40.49/gal. Oysters freeze well so, especially if you want them for cooking.

          1. re: MakingSense

            you couldn't find decent dark roast (but yes, not chicory) in CA? I know it's a big state, but in the SF area there were/are all sorts of small roasters.

            I can understand their reluctance to distribute the good stuff North. I grew up in STL and one might think the river history connection would have more impact, but sadly no. it is only within the last 10 years one can easily find a decent cup outside of NOLA, SF, LA, or the odd espresso joint (and no not who some might think - although they did kind of jump start things)

            1. re: hill food

              We lived in CA in the early 70s. Near Palm Springs. Even then, the chicory was a MUST. I'd been drinking dark roast w/chicory since I was 4 years old, for goodness sake. That was coffee!
              Later, we lived outside of STL. General American decent coffee but not the dark roast with chicory.

              When you grew up in Louisiana, you got spoiled. You didn't need all of that prissy "small roaster" stuff.
              Even Gas-and-Go places always had good coffee. It was just a given for generations. Community, French Market, CDM, etc. right in the local stores.
              It was very rare to find a bad cup and it's only been recently that you find crappy stuff.

              1. re: MakingSense

                wow, we spent about a year in Lancaster up near Edwards AFB in '73-'74 and except for the landscape it coulda been anywhere. (well that and the amazing vegetable market and the SLA sightings...)

                one does get spoiled on some things, in SF it was bread and coffee.

                OP: my comment on growing your own Bay, it should really be done in a pot in this climate zone, so it can be brought indoors over Winter.

                1. re: hill food

                  California did spoil us for fresh vegetables. The early 70s was before they started shipping a variety of produce to stores across the country. CA was like a wonderland to us. Had never seen some of the types of lettuce before and so many choices in produce departments in regular grocery stores.
                  After that we lived in North Louisiana and then Missouri and really missed that produce. Even when we moved to Washington in the mid-70s, the selection wasn't anything like CA. It took years for stores to begin to catch up but they probably never will equal CA because of climate differences. Stuff still has to be shipped and it's not economical to market the varieties that are available on the West Coast.

        2. If you come up to Bethesda, try Louisiana Kitchen on Cordell Avenue. It hits the spot for me.

          Louisiana Kitchen & Bayou Bar
          4907 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

          1. Cafe du Monde coffee can be found in Asian supermarkets in NoVa..I found Tony Cs at the Eastern Market on Cap Hill. Got a great king cake at Heidelburg bakery in Arlington..Zapps at Wegmans and World Market..,,have yet to find a po boy to my liking...I love Acadiana but it's pricey for me. So...I make ,my own red beans and rice..and such..from an old junior league of New Orleans cookbook.

            7 Replies
            1. re: rHairing

              Junior League cookbooks can be hit or miss, but there are some amazing gems to be found within them.

              1. re: hill food

                Totally agree but there are several recipes that are hit. ...others, you couldn't pay me enough...

                1. re: rHairing

                  yeah, anything calling for maraschinos and mayo in a salad...

                  one realizes why these are self-published when the editorial standards are analyzed.

              2. re: rHairing

                and from today's Post - Bayou Bakery is slated to replace Murky Coffee in Arlington (but far afield for the OP)

                1. re: hill food

                  Yeah, but great for the rest of us! He's planning to have fried pies, pralines, and snoballs!

                  1. re: hill food

                    i'd hope that the bayou bakery would have andouille with remoulade on crusty french baguettes. please. please. please!

                    1. re: hill food

                      The informed are probably aware this is not going to happen. Real shame, I was checking the damgoodsweet site every so often to get a taste of home and this is a real disappointment.

                  2. i hear that you can get decent andouille at eastern market--and wagshalls makes one as well.

                    1 Reply